Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Windows 10 and Matfen Hall

 Problems with Windows 10 still crop up when least expected. For example, I wanted to upload pictures from my camera to my computer, something I've done for the last few years without a hitch. This morning I found I had uploaded yesterday's pics, but they were in a different folder, and I couldn't access them in the accustomed way. Nor could I use one on Facebook or here on my blog. Once more dh came to the rescue and sorted out a route for me. What would I do without him?

I am still awaiting the proof copy of my paperback of Queen's Courier. Twelve days now and counting since they reported that "it had shipped." I'm beginning to wonder if they've sent it sea mail! I'm sure the last time I ordered one of these proofs, it arrived almost the next day.

Work on the new book is going at a steady pace. It will be a regency romance/adventure and the title is The Matfen Affair. There is a real Matfen Hall not far from my home, and though some details tally - such as the physical description of the outside of the hall and the general location - it isn't intended that "my" Matfen is the same as the real Matfen which belongs to the Blackett family. I've enjoyed some very pleasant meals in the Library Restaurant, the Conservatory and the Greenkeeper's Lodge and hope to enjoy many more!

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Olympics and Windows 10

The Olympics are nearly over. Many will be sighing in relief that life  will get back to normal, and I did get a little tired of seeing beach volleyball with very nearly naked women throwing themselves about in the early days, but then sports that I like came along and things got better. I was sad that Rafa left without a singles medal, but when he was playing two matches per day for three or four days, I conclude that he didn't really expect to win but just wanted to take part. The Trott-Kenny partnership is amazing and Laura is so slight  one wonders where she gets the power from. Small, neat people often do well in gymnastics, but I must say I like it when people of average size take on the pint size little girls, and do well. I think that's because it must be harder for them, especially on the high bars - imagine forgetting to move your feet and clouting the lower bar as you twirl around the high bar. The dressage was so amazing I cried. If I could get my dog half so well trained I'd be delighted.

The picture is one I took near Crinan on 21st August last year. I haven't taken many pics since I came back from France. Windows 10 meant I had to find a new way of uploading  from camera to computer, and now my latest pics are locked away in another file. Uploading W10 caused no end of problems and has taken a great deal of time and frustration to sort out. Thank goodness dh has the patience and knowhow - and the kind of mind required - to sort it for me. It's like driving - I don't want to know how the car works; I just want to drive it.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Createspace quibbles

As a warning to anyone else who sets out to create a paperback with Createspace, be warned: if you get in a muddle with trim sizes (or whatever other problem) and decide to cut your losses, delete it all and start again, this is where the system clocks your ISBN and won't let you re-use it - not even for the same story.  So don't delete - persevere, otherwise you will lose your ISBN.

Despite my 5 complaints and 5 responses from Amazon staff all assuring me I would now be able to re-use my ISBN, I could not; it still came up as Invalid in red  text. Exasperated, I remembered they could only be bought from Nielsen in batches of ten, so I had a few still on file. I tested a different ISBN - with the trim sizes I wanted this time - and it worked. I have made progress at the cost of losing my original ISBN and considering they probably cost around £10 a time, that's quite a loss.

I suppose I can re-use the initial ISBN with another system such as Lulu, or Smashwords or whatever, It will be interesting to see if I can ever re-use it for another story on Amazon. All I can say is that Createspace has a definite slant on persuading people to use their own (free) Createspace ISBNs.

Another thing - the fifth and final response from Amazon told me I should be using Firefox instead of Internet Explorer 11. Evidently Createspace was designed to be used with Firefox because of "its encryption and security coding"- but why is that not made clear right at the point of starting out? There were other hints and tips such a reloading the page from the server, clearing out the cache on my pc so that it would work more efficiently, but if these things failed, then I should "contact my service engineer for a system revision." In other words - it was my fault.

I am using  Mozilla Firefox for Createspace now and by using a new ISBN I have got the book to the proofing stage without any hitches this time. Hopefully when the proof copy arrives, it will be OK. We shall see!

Monday, 8 August 2016

windows 10 and problems

I have so many things on the go at the moment I am rapidly getting dizzy. Upgrading to IEE11  and Windows  10 has given me problems and is really trying my patience - and I don't have a lot to spare.
I suppose I'll get used to it in time, but as of this moment I am not enamoured with it.

The new wip is progressing slowly, without problems other than me not concentrating on it as I should. My attempt to put Queen's Courier on Createspace as a paperback is proving problematical to the extent I'm wondering why I thought it was so easy the first time I tried it.

Even my pictures seem distorted in this new windows format, but  I shall plod on and see if things improve. Wish me luck! At least there is slight chance I might see Rafa playing tennis during this Olympic fortnight.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Queen's Courier and re-makes

Queen's Courier went live on 31st July - available on Kindle. at last. Yesterday I spent fiddling about with Createspace to see if I could produce a paperback copy. I've done it once before, but I'd forgotten how fiddly a process it is. I shall have another go today, once I've showered, walked Tim and popped into the store to get some beef in order to prepare lunch for visitors expected this week or early next.
This is my final cover picture - a little less green now after a friend commented that she looked seasick. (Her complexion was rather too green in the shadows!)
Already I've gone over chapter two of the my new wip. So much to do, so little time! I wish I'd started writing much earlier, but I never seemed to have much time, or the confidence to do it. When I was a child, wanting to be an author seemed such a pretentious thing to say but nowadays everybody and the dog are at it. No wonder agents are flooded with submissions every day of the week.

In spite of the fact that most re-makes don't do well at the box-office, Hollywood seems to be rehashing famous stories all the time, as if they can't find enough "new" stories worth filming. I wonder when they will get around to re-doing Gone with the Wind or Forever Amber? Surely it is only a matter of time. What about Brief Encounter? Would that be believable in today's world? Probably not.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Cover Reveal ~ Queen's Courier

I've lost count of how many times I've said this - I'm almost at the end of the final edits on Queen's Courier - but I really mean it this time. I am reading at a snail's pace and finding things to correct, which makes it worth while. This is the final read through via the Online Previewer and the cover is already loaded, won't change and so I'll put it here today.

I've been looking back over the year's KENP stats (since July 2015) and I'm happy to say that they are definitely going up. The month just closed was the highest figure I've had, and it is mostly due to The Gybford Affair. Strange to think that it sat with MuseItUp for a year or two and attracted very few readers. I think the combination of pretty but irrelevant cover pic plus a high price did the trick, but it could also have been because I did very little PR work on it. So once I get Q'sC off my hands  (ie published,) I'll concentrate on PR and see if it has any results.

It is interesting to see how the stats go in waves. A book will be read for two or three months and then there'll be a gap when it is not read at all, then off it will go again. I can only assume it is when promotion works. Maybe those alerts Amazon send out - yes, they advertise my books to me, which always amuses me - maybe they do a lot more good than I know.


Thursday, 28 July 2016

Squeals and shuttles

Another holiday over. It is the strangest thing but six weeks can begin to seem like normal life in a different location and then once back home, the whole thing might never have happened - those six weeks have gone in a flash. 

We take two days to travel back. France is a surprisingly big country and from Bergerac to Abbeville, our overnight stop, it is a long way. Particularly for Tim, who cried the whole of the first two hours of the journey. He wasn’t so bad for the rest of the day, but  on Le Shuttle sous le Manche everyone in the same carriage as us must have been ready to throttle him as he squealed and cried. He has a particularly shrill squeal he employs when he's distressed or displeased with something. Trouble is the cars are packed so tight that we couldn't get the rear door open to comfort him, and I couldn't reached him through the safety gate, which keeps him from rampaging over into the back seat, without being in severe danger of wrecking my back after ten minutes. He continued to cry at intervals all the way home and drove us very nearly demented. Will we go again? At this point, I’m not sure. The memory of him squealing is too raw. By next summer, who knows?

So now I'm home with a garden that's gone berserk, piles of washing  awaiting attention and a fridge that is empty. What to do first? Catch up on e-mails! See how my books are doing! Get back to my blog! We crashed the internet allowance in France - mostly because dh has a phone that constantly sends him BBC news updates, which gobbled up the allowance. Our fault!

Contrary to expectations I did not romp through a new romance, but spent a lot of time doing a final edit on Queen's Courier. I know, I've said this before and really the darn thing should be done, but I still find things to improve, or change or tweak. I have a few chapters of a new book started, so I didn't come back empty handed. I really must send QC to Amazon and be done with it. It is time to move on.




Sunday, 17 July 2016

Summer reading

Saint-Georges-de-Monclard, sometimes spelled Monclar, is a small commune with less than 300 inhabitants. The centre of the village has a great deal of history with the 11th century chateau, which has been remodelled several times over the centuries, the 12th century hall, period houses where you can see old wooden balconies and stone columns on the terraces of the first floor and the chapel of the Sainte Thérèse Montclar. So far I have not found out anything about Sainte Therese, but I’ll keep trying.

The weather has hit a high note today with an outside temperature of 31 degrees. It is really too hot to do anything remotely active so we’re lurking indoors where it is a comparatively cool 24 degrees. It has been a very sunny week, and probably because of that I’ve finished two books I ordered on Kindle – Lake House by Kate Morton and The Hard Way by Lee Child. Both very good in their different ways and good purchases. When the weather is cooler we’re out and bout pruning and weeding and walking Tim, but not in this heat. He doesn’t want to go anyway – except to jump in the stream and cool off.


For some reason I veered off writing the new story and began editing The Queen’s Courier AGAIN. This really is the last time. When I get home I shall transfer it to Kindle and publish it. Then I’ll turn my attention back to The Matfen Affair.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Visitors

All this holiday Tim has felt it his duty to bark furiously at any strange dog, car, tractor, lorry or cyclist. We don’t see many people simply walking, but he would have barked at them too. But yesterday about five o’ clock as I was starting to prepare our evening meal, there was an odd bark and a strange sound at the door. I looked up, and there was masculine face looking back at me – and not, I hasten to add, my husband.

A handsome young Frenchman had come to call, but the thing was that he didn’t speak English and our pigeon French was not doing too well. Ironic too that after all Tim’s barking, this young man had parked his van half a mile away at the end of the drive, walked all the way to the gate, opened and shut it and crossed the bolly to the door without Tim hearing him! Our faith in his guard dog propensities are shaken! I think he was shocked himself, for he then barked furiously and threatened the stranger with dire threats - none of which dismayed the young man. He was obviously used to dogs, as country people so often are. 

By means of odd words and mime we finally understood that he wanted to
sell us tickets to the fête in St Felix on 31st July! The ticket would have paid for the food on offer. I gather you take a plate and a fork and help yourself to whatever takes your fancy. Unhappily, after all that effort at communication, we will be back in England by then, otherwise we would have gone. The same thing happened last year, but the couple who came then did have a little English and we bought the tickets but would not have been in France on the day. One day we will get there!

Though we’re on holiday we’re watching tv in between bouts of gardening and pruning and lawn cutting because there is always something happening. Cameron hands over to May today, and Labour now has 3 candidates for the leadership of the party. Someone must have wished us with living in interesting times. We’re just about to watch Cameron’s last Question time while we wait to hear who Mrs May appoints to her new government.

Both the old buildings are in Montclard St George.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Kicking Back

Had to be brave and use some French today. We’ve run out of recycle sacs and needed more, so off to the Mairie we drove. Every small village/commune has a Mairie which runs the place and we’d been told that we could get more sacs there. I used Google translator to get a nice, polite sentence in French, copied it down on a piece of paper, and marched up the steps of the smart new building in St Felix de Villadeix. I came back down flushed with success and clutching a big roll of yellow recycle sacs. My prepared sentence worked beautifully, and I adlibbed the rest!

Afterwards we drove to St George de Montclard by way of Rabard, and drove slowly by the house we almost bought about ten years ago. We couldn’t sell our own at the time, so the deal fell through, but it was a lovely house with lots of land. Actually, the recession of 2008 convinced us we had done the right thing in staying in England, and now Brexit is about to reinforce that. There are 129 houses for sale in this commune at the moment, prices ranging from 73,000 euros all the way up to 900,000 euros. No doubt a lot of English who’ve chosen to live here will now be thinking of returning. 

Lots of things that were easy and good in the EU, for travellers and those who chose to buy homes here, may now not be so good – medical attention when required, travel insurance, UK pensions that don’t rise with inflation – in other words, an income that is decreasing rather than keeping pace with the cost of living which is not now that much cheaper in France than in the UK. (Just as an aside I bought a tin of Heinz baked beans in the Intermarche the other day. In the UK it would cost me somewhere in the region of 35p; here it cost me the euro equivalent of £1.25.) The French don't do that kind of bean, though there are lots of other bean choices.

A journalist on the Daily Politic show today called Jeremy Corbyn’s 500,000 supporters “a group hug” which I though a nice way of putting it. His people keep quoting this figure as a reason for staying put at the head of the Labour Party but just don’t seem to realise that he has to get a substantial number of the other 60 million people of voting age in the rest of the country to vote for him as well.


Thursday, 7 July 2016

Noises in the morning

We’ve been relaxing and not doing much work the last few days. The little black flies have been horrendous this year, possibly because it is so damp. Lots of rain earlier in the year, but the stream is back to its normal levels now, so Tim is much happier. He didn’t like it when it was so deep. At one point I realised I was wearing long trousers and long sleeves – and still getting bitten! I asked myself why did I come to France? 

Today however, I’m hopeful the worst is over, for the air is much drier and the flies are much fewer. I’m still wearing long trousers, but it is not a conscious decision. Just a left over from a seven o’ clock walk in the dew-wet fields with Tim. We got barked at by something we never saw, lurking in the bushes, and Tim was nervous. I can only assume it was the big dog-fox dh saw when we first arrived. 

So far I haven’t seen any wildlife at all – things just keep making noises in the undergrowth. One morning last week something was hissing and spitting at me and Tim ran ten feet away. That wasn’t a fox, but it might have been a coypou, or an otter? It was on the river bank, in dense undergrowth. I saw grass moving as it vanished, but that was all.


We had a brief spell without the swimming pool. We knew it needed a new part, but were not prepared for the electrician to switch the punp off when he came on Monday. Without the pump the water doesn’t move, flies dive bomb it and little bodies, leaves and stuff floats around on the surface. We had our doubts about the electrician ever returning, but he did today, and with the new part which he fitted and voila! We have a functioning pool once more. I shall have a dip around four this afternoon when it is hot and the water has warmed up in the sunshine. 

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Intermarche and Friskies

Had a good time in the Intermarche yesterday. I like French supermarkets, love checking out the kitchen implements section. I found my wine bottle-stoppers and added two blocks of lavender soap and a Petit Marseilles shampoo to my stores. The plastic box section I’ll check out just before we go home! Then off for nectarines, haricot vert, fromage, and saumon among other things. Also sneaked in a box of Pringles, some pain au chocolate and French biscuits.  I also found the squeaky toy for Tim, but it is blue instead of pink. It is a Friskie toy by Purina, but I can't find them in the UK. (The label I removed from it has instructions in every European language - except English!) Now he runs around with it in his mouth, squeaking.

Our early morning walk this morning was extended by two fields – the haymaking now completed. Cut, turned, corralled into lines and baled all in two days! That farmer was working hard. We walk around the perimeter and Tim lopes around investigating every smell, breaks into a gallop, wheels round to investigate something he missed – in other words, he has a great time. The only drawback is that there is a single track road running between the two fields, and though the traffic in this area is minimal, (about six per day!) the minute Tim and I step out, a car appears. Yesterday it was a tractor that roared down on us and he tried to attack it. Fortunately he was on the lead

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Local news

Tim doesn't like the pool
While I was saying the haymaking has not yet begun yesterday, the local farmer must have been studying the sky and maybe the calendar, because just around the time Federer faced 770 ranked Willis across the net, we heard the roar of the tractor. That would be about five thirty in the UK, but around six thirty here. (I have to keep reminding myself that I’m an hour ahead of my friends in the UK. Plays havoc with tv programmes!) Anyway, he spent the evening cutting the hay in two of the three fields and I am not suffering the effects of hayfever!

This is pay-out time for Amazon authors and I’m happy to say the electronic transfer of funds seems to be working very well indeed. Once again there is a small payment via Indian rupees, which makes me very curious as to who in that vast sub-continent is reading my books. Though several people in Australia have bought The Gybford Affair, no one has read it yet. It is amazing the way independent authors can keep track of their business.


We are keeping track of the Brexit fall out via the tv, too. As I’m typing this I’m hearing that Michael Gove has just stuck a knife into his pal Boris, metaphorically speaking, by saying he doesn’t think he can do the job. 

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Poolside reading

I enjoyed The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. Like The Forgotten Garden, it had a question that kept me reading right to the end, but it was a lot of words to get through. Rather like tackling a Barbara Erskine book, when the reader needs to block out a week, possibly a fortnight, during which the housework goes to pot and nothing gets done until the last page has been devoured. Worth it, but I was very glad I was on holiday and could sit up late reading without worrying about the morning.

While I’ve been here I’ve written two chapters of The Matfen Affair (which might yet be called The Fenwick Affair by the time I get to the end) and finished a plot outline. I’m glad about the latter, as I was worried about where I was going with it next. The Gybford Affair is doing well via KENP with Amazon, so I’d like to get this one out before the end of the year.


Here in France the haymaking has not yet begun and it is the end of June! Actually, two small fields on a hillside which drains well have been cut, but the meadows on the valley bottom have not. They are probably as waterlogged as our lower field, so our walks with Tim are a tiny bit restricted. Not that he suffers, for there is plenty of space for him to enjoy without restriction. The amazing thing is that I haven’t suffered from hay fever this year – not yet! Last year I could hardly step outdoors and had to get help from a very pleasant chemist in Bergerac.


Monday, 27 June 2016

Referendum blues

If the referendum proves anything at all, it is that the country should not have referendums, because people don’t vote on the simple, yes-no question they’re asked. They vote with all sorts of things in their minds, in reaction to all sorts of things in the past and with no real appreciation of the thing they're turning down. There are many hinting now that they wish they had voted the other way, because they never thought that the outcome would be to leave the EU. Duh! They thought they were the only ones to think like that? Really?

What a mess the UK is in now. The PM has all but resigned and wants no part of steering the country through something he never wanted, and why should he? Those who wanted to leave should be the ones with plans ready to take over, but it seems the Gove-Johnstone pair don’t have a plan between them. Farage is nowhere to be seen, but possibly lurks at his local with a pint in his fist. Jeremy Corbyn shambles around saying nothing much and leading no one to the vexation of his Shadow Cabinet who are resigning in droves – 15 up to this point. Corbyn insists he is staying on, no doubt convinced that the Labour Party loves him and will vote him in again if and when there is a General Election, touted as possibly November. It will be a nightmare come true if he is, because it is doubtful he will be able to form an opposition government.

Lawyers are now arguing over Nicola Sturgeon’s gleeful claim that Scotland could veto Brexit because Scotland wants to stay in the EU. South of the border some folk are saying yes – save us from this mess and keep us in the EU. While I might want that, I find it astounding that such a small population could overturn a decision made by a much larger population. Not much democracy there, is there?


Only George Osborne is standing firm, a steady figure in all this chaos. Come on Ms May, and any other suitable Conservative candidate – don’t let either one of that dreadful Brexit pair take over, otherwise we’ll be the laughing stock of Europe if not the world in having a journalist, who fell into politics by mistake, for a PM.